A high-ranking U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent, assigned to the Gulf Coast to assist in recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, says he and his fellow agents were forced to remove their uniforms with "ICE" branded on the back (similar to "FBI" and "POLICE") because storm victims were chasing them down in hopes of receiving bags of ice.
To end the confusion, several ICE agents changed into legacy uniforms - gear that reads "U.S. Customs" and "INS" (the old Immigration and Naturalization Service) - they had worn before the two agencies merged under the fledgling Department of Homeland Security.
TOUGH NUT TO CRACK
A difficult year for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay got even tougher when the Texas Republican was indicted on conspiracy charges. Knowing DeLay, he will take these latest charges in stride.
Take last February, when the embattled leader went ahead with plans to be keynote speaker before the Washington Press Club Foundation's Congressional Dinner, even though the House ethics committee had just approved a "public admonishment" of him for influencing a fellow lawmaker to support Medicare prescription-drug legislation.
He caused further uproar when trying to change the ethics rules so they wouldn't apply to him.
All eyes were on DeLay when he stood before the large crowd of press types and said it was an honor to appear before "so many friends" - adding upon second glance, "or so many people."
Writing thrillers has gotten tougher since the Cold War ended, putting the handy Soviet villains out of business. So, what's a novelist to do?
Capt. David E. Meadows, an active-duty Navy officer and author of the acclaimed "Sixth Fleet" series of military novels, seems to have identified a new threat for fictional heroes.
"Over the waters of the Ivory Coast, a routine training exercise turns into a mysterious disaster, when a fleet of F-16 fighters simply vanishes," warns the back cover of Capt. Meadows' latest paperback. "Someone had gotten hold of an experimental weapon being developed by the American Missile Defense Office - and all signs point to the French."
The new novel is "Joint Task Force: France."
CUSHING IS CAPABLE
One congressman fed up with paying more than $50 for a tank of gas is Republican Rep. Ernest Istook, who is co-sponsoring legislation to ease restrictions that block construction of new oil refineries, including in his home state of Oklahoma.
Take the town of Cushing, dubbed "Oil Pipeline Capital of the World." Three-fourths of all crude oil flowing through North America reportedly passes through the Oklahoma town.
"Common sense says we should build more refineries in Oklahoma, especially near Cushing," says Istook. "The town already has the infrastructure in place and land available for a huge plant. It would be a perfect fit."
And, the congressman points out, Oklahoma is far enough away from the Gulf Coast that hurricanes wouldn't render its refineries inoperable.
HARK THE HERALD
A new public affairs and strategic consulting firm opened its doors this week, among its areas of expertise politics, campaigning and - what often follows in these unethical times - crisis management.
Founders of the Herald Group include political industry veterans Taylor Gross, Doug McGinn and Matt Well, the latter a former aide to Sen. Bob Dole who recently stepped down as director of public affairs for the Securities and Exchange Commission.
A longtime political operative in Washington, Gross recently left the White House, where for almost five years he was a spokesman for President Bush. The previous stop for McGinn, a communications director and senior adviser to three members of Congress, was as assistant vice president at Dittus Communications in Washington.
REST OF THE STORY
In 1979, a young California college student, Dennis Cardoza, was all set to begin a Capitol Hill internship with Al Gore, who was then a congressman from Tennessee.
But just when he finished packing his bags for Washington, Cardoza was told that his internship offer was rescinded, given instead to a Tennessee student.
Cardoza turned to the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars for help and, fortunately, he secured another internship with then-Rep. Martin Frost, Texas Democrat.
Now, some 25 years later, the former intern is a Democratic congressman, winning the seat held by former Rep. Gary A. Condit, California Democrat.
Most fittingly, when Cardoza took the oath of office for the first time, his old boss, Frost, was by his side.
This week, the Washington Center honored Cardoza with its Alumnus of the Year award, given his impressive rise from congressional intern to U.S. congressman.
It's worth noting that the Washington Center is commemorating its 30th anniversary as the largest provider of internships in the nation's capital. Since 1975, according to its president, Michael Smith, it has brought more than 33,000 students to Washington for internships in Congress, federal agencies, nonprofits and corporate offices.
NO THIRD TERM?
Even though President Bush cannot seek re-election beyond this term in office, his second, that didn't stop Democracy Corps lieutenants James Carville and Stan Greenberg from conducting a national survey of 1,000 likely voters asking whether they will continue to support Bush.
Key result of the survey: 45 percent of voters say they are "finished with him."
It was several days after Hurricane Katrina had slammed into the southeastern Louisiana coast, and an emotional Billy Tauzin, president and chief executive officer of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, called his entire staff into PhRMA's ninth-floor conference room on 15th Street Northwest.
He may no longer be the longtime congressman (nearly 25 years) representing hard-hit New Orleans and its surrounding parishes - Louisiana's 3rd Congressional District - but that didn't stop Tauzin from traveling to the hurricane-ravaged region to console his former constituents.
It was a "stirring recount of his visit," says PhRMA communications director Jennifer C. Page, during which "Billy, too, cried" while describing the "devastated residents who wept on his shoulder, wondering where to go and what to do."
He then appealed to members of his staff to do everything they could to help with Katrina relief efforts. They opened their wallets and checkbooks and contributed almost $10,000, which PhRMA immediately matched.
Tauzin, a Democrat before switching to the Republican Party in 1995, was diagnosed with intestinal cancer early in 2004, and his recovery, PhRMA says, ultimately led him to accept his current lobbying position. PhRMA represents 35 of the top pharmaceutical companies in the country.